Tag Archives: autism

First-Responders Train to Assist Those with ASD

sk blog 730
With more autism diagnoses taking place nationwide, it is becoming increasingly more critical for all first-responders to be properly trained in assisting those on the spectrum. Police officers, for example, are beginning to experience more training on how to successfully interact with those with autism in order to best assist them in a time of crisis.

Pennsylvania, for instance, has recently enforced a new state law that mandates officers to learn about mental illnesses, autism, and other disorders, in order to recognize and manage a crisis. Luciana Randall, executive director of Autism Connection of PA states, “This law is probably going to save someone’s life. It will help officers do their job more safely. They don’t want to make a mistake.”

The new law requires officers to learn what services may be available when autistic individuals are in a state of crisis. Furthermore, it teaches officers how to best interact with those on the spectrum, such as speaking gently, avoiding sudden movements, accepting the fact that the individual may avoid answering questions, as well as be more patient and understanding.

Police Chief Todd Graeff states “We take training seriously, and if it’s a mandate, we’re going to make sure it happens.” He continues, “If police officers can help identify (a crisis) and prevent a tragedy, that’s a plus.”

In a state of crisis, anyone can become anxious, fearful, or irrational, but for those on the spectrum, the situation can truly be terrifying and too much to handle. Training will enable officers to properly de-escalate a situation and minimize the chance of meltdowns.

Sue Walther, executive director of Mental Health America PA, states, “Often times the interaction between police and someone with a mental illness or someone with autism escalates needlessly. If police understand what they are confronting, they may go about it in a different way.”

Moving forward, this mandate should serve as an ideal for all other states. It is essential for all first-responders to learn how to best communicate with those on the spectrum, enabling them to receive the utmost assistance and to prevent an escalated situation.

Autistic Students Regain their Appetites

Chef Lucio, changing lives one meal at a time

Chef Lucio, changing lives one meal at a time

Mealtimes can be difficult for people with autism. This was the case at Queensmill, a West London school for children on the autism spectrum. But, times have changed. Ever since Djalma Lucio Polli de Carbalho, a Brazilian chef who goes by the name of “Lucio,” joined as head chef, Queensmill’s students are regaining their appetite.

Indeed, the children are showing incredible progress at lunch time. Jude Ragan, the headteacher at Queensmill is delighted. “Tables used to be thrown over,”she says. “That’s stopped. Because the kids are eating, obviously they aren’t hungry which means the afternoons are better. The teachers feel properly cared for, which they deserve to be. But mostly we can just take pleasure in food. It’s a part of the day we all enjoy.”

Queensmill is composed of 140 students between 2 and 19 years of age. Most have trouble communicating and are non-verbal, using pictogram systems to show what they’d like to eat. Their relationship with food, however, is very complex.

Autistic people often experience a sensory overload when they approach food, as they may be hypersensitive to various temperatures and textures. Some seek a sensory hit and desire strong stimulants like crunch or heat. Others seek just the opposite and stick to warm or cool, bland foods. At times, depending on circumstances like quantity and quality of sleep, an autistic person may swing from one preference to the other.

Patterns are also very important for some autistic people; a small change in their daily routine can severely throw them off. This can be extremely stressful for the parents of autistic children. Evidently, Lucio’s cooking is turning things around. His food is made from scratch and a pleasure for everyone— even the staff at school. Ragan admits “the benefit he brings to us is incalculable.” He prepares everything from chicken with lemon and garlic to roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes. His objective is to expand what the children eat to ultimately prepare them for an unpredictable and diverse future around food.

One mother recounts, “I was absolutely astonished when Matthew started eating. Since the new year, he’s eating things like curries that he would never have touched before. The fact is our children have very little control over their own lives and Lucio’s food has given them the opportunity to try things.”

Queensmill is thankful and grateful that Lucio joined their team. Their past year of delightful progress will hopefully inspire other schools to make changes in their kitchens for the children, their families, and their future.

For the original article, please click here: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jul/19/lunchtime-revolution-school-children-autism

By Maude Plucker

Wings for Autism – Allowing Children with ASD to Prepare for Travel

(photo: usatoday.com)

(photo: usatoday.com)

With all of the hustle and bustle of a typical airport, including the security screenings and anxiety of being on a plane, the entire experience of flying can be nerve-wracking and aggravating for anyone.

However, for children with autism, the fear and stress can simply be too much to handle. As a result, families often dismiss the idea of taking trips together to avoid the potential meltdowns or anxiety that their child may suffer while on the plane.

To help ease the fears of children on the spectrum, Wings for Autism has developed a program that allows families to practice flying without having to ever leave the ground. Children are given the opportunity to take a practice run through all the standard procedures of an airport, such as getting to the ticketing line, boarding the flight, and even sitting on a plane.

Wings for Autism was developed by ARC of Jefferson County in conjunction with Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Alabama. The program has been running in many cities nationwide, and takes place annually, with directors hoping to hold the program more often.

Not only does the program enable children with autism to get comfortable with the airport and the experience of flying, but it allows staff to better understand how to help those with the disorder during times of distress when they travel. The experience gives staff a better perspective of how to approach autistic children, in order to help assuage their fears and make the experience of flying a much more comfortable one.

For more about the program and to enroll: http://www.thearc.org/wingsforautism

Camp Program Prepares Autistic Teens for College

sk blog 727
With growing numbers of autistic teens graduating high school and moving on to higher education, it is becoming essential to develop more programs that prepare these young adults for the next chapter of their lives.

One program that is helping these teens transition into college is the College Prep Summer Camp in Arizona, serving young adults on the spectrum between the ages of 16 and 26. For the third consecutive year, the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) has partnered with Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC) to host the summer camp.

In the week-long camp experience, the staff offers participants the opportunity to partake in typical college processes, such as admissions, moving into dorms, and attending classes. Furthermore, the students can participate in social activities such as student life, meeting other students at the university café, and partaking in group projects that focus on team building.

The accepted participants fall into three categories: those planning to go to college, those with some experience who plan to enroll again in the future, and those who have not attended before and had lacked the confidence to move forward with enrolling. Participants in each of these categories are given equal attention and opportunities to gain the skills that are necessary to advance in college.

When the week-long session concludes, participants can celebrate their new skills and achievements with family during a closing ceremony. After the camp ends, participants are also offered an online class they can take to further practice their college skills. If they complete the course, they are eligible for college credit.

Programs such as these are truly changing the way autistic teens and adults shape their futures, as it provides them with the chance to gain confidence in moving forward with the next step of their lives.

Shema Kolainu 17th Annual Legislative Breakfast A Great Success

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 4.55.40 PM

With esteemed political guests, great food, and artwork created by children presented as awards, the Annual Shema Kolainu Legislative Breakfast wrapped up as another wonderful success in 2015.

Speakers from all over New York City delivered inspiring addresses pledging their support for the special needs community in Borough Park’s Renaissance Ballroom.

The morning’s honoree was Dr. Merryl H. Tisch, Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents. Dr. Tisch has long served as an educational advocate.

Dr. Tisch began her career as a schoolteacher in Manhattan. She was later appointed to the Board of Regents in 1996. Eleven years later, she was elected Vice Chancellor of the Board, and soon after became Chancellor in 2009.

Also honored at the event was NYC Councilmember Andrew Cohen, and Zelig Friedman of The Tantzers, the dance group who performed at the Shema Kolainu Alumni reunion.

Opening remarks were made by Dr. Joshua Weinstein, Founder and President of Shema Kolainu Hear Our Voices.

“The mission of Shema Kolainu is to allow children with autism to enjoy a better life and a better future,” said Dr. Weinstein. “ We have seen such a tremendous amount of success stories from the kids.”

Also in attendance was Letitia James, current New York City Public Advocate and longtime friend of Dr. Tisch.

“From education, to poverty and beyond, Dr. Merryl Tisch’s advocacy knows no limits,” said James.

Shortly after, NYC Councilman David Greenfield introduced award recipient and fellow Councilman Andrew Cohen.

“Andrew Cohen has single-handedly saved millions of dollars this year for mental health services!” Greenfield said.

Finally, US Assistant Attorney Tali Farhadian Weinstein took the stage to introduce Dr. Merryl H. Tisch.

Dr. Tisch brought up a memory she had when dealing with a mother of a child who had special needs. After hearing much anxiety and uncertainty, it became clear that this mother wanted Tisch to be able to “fix” her child.

“We can’t fix them, but we can help every child in overcoming challenging circumstances,” said Dr. Tisch.

She wrapped up her speech by mentioning how honored she is to advocate for New York City’s children.

At the end of the ceremony, Dr. Joshua Weinstein delivered closing remarks.

“I want to thank Merryl Tisch again for what she stands for, what she has done, and what she will continue to do,” said Dr. Weinstein.

The Difference Between Tantrums and Meltdowns

child tantrum or meltdown

The definition of a meltdown is an involuntary reaction to overstimulation. There is little to no control on the sufferer’s part. Instead, the child is triggered by something which illicits a response. Tantrums, on the other hand, are a voluntary reaction meant to manipulate another person. The ability to distinguish between the two will help ease the situation and properly address the issue.

Here are some tips to help you recognize whether your child is having a meltdown or a tantrum:

1. Where is your child looking? When he/she is having a tantrum they will most likely be looking at you because they want to make sure they get your attention. But during a meltdown the child isn’t looking for a reaction so they typically don’t care if you’re watching or not.

2. Is the child aware of his or her social setting? Tantrum throwers will use certain situations to their advantage to get what they want. When it’s a meltdown, it doesn’t matter if it’s in a public place or at home.

3. Do they consider their own safety? When throwing a tantrum, the child will be aware of their surroundings and try to not get hurt. For meltdowns, the child is not concerned with anyone’s safety including their own.


When does the behavior stop? Tantrums will stop as soon as the child gets what they want. Once they get the toy or the piece of candy they were yelling for, their behavior will change. But with a meltdown, it can seem like nothing will calm him/her. It will need to run its course.

There is still good news! Once you’ve determined your child is having a meltdown there are some things you can try to help:

1. Learn the triggers. You will need to watch you child carefully when they are having a meltdown. Was it caused by the lighting? Loud noises? Too many people? Take note of the signals to watch for in the future.

2. Try to avoid injury. If your child tends to throw things, move him/her away from sharp objects or in a room without other people.

3. Comfort them. Find something soothing. For some kids, comfort can be sought through deep pressure treatments, massages, rocking back and forth, or a favorite toy.

4. Use previously defined cues. Work with your child on better understanding consequences. When he/she is having a meltdown you can use those soothing tones and words to be reassuring.

5. Avoid public places. This is easier said than done. But if you have an option to go to less crowded places, take it.

6. Take a third party. It’s always nice to have a helping hand. And when you’re out running errands you can leave the store to help your child if they have a meltdown.

7. Have a plan of action in place. Scope the place out early. You can even talk to the staff about your child’s needs.

8. Involve the child in your activities. This helps distract them so they are less likely to have a meltdown.

9. Discuss behavior beforehand. This will help the child know what is expected from them.

Many people think there is nothing you can do if your child is acting out in public. But knowing whether it’s a tantrum or a meltdown will make a world of difference for everyone. Ideally, as your child gets older, he/she will develop ways to cope with sensory overload so meltdowns will be less frequent.

To read the full article please visit http://blog.theautismsite.com/tantrum-meltdown/?utm_source=social&utm_medium=autaware&utm_campaign=tantrum-meltdown&utm_term=20150705

By Raiza Belarmino

The Easiest Thing You’ll Do All Day- ICareTV is Just A Click Away!


Today, more people are hearing this word than at any point in human history.

But if you ask the world, “What is autism?” the responses vary.

To some, this word conjures up thoughts of people with superhuman abilities to organize and remember facts. To others, it is a strange disorder that makes it hard for some people to socially interact.

And for many, “autism” is the reason why they struggle for employment, why they are denied an education, why they are excluded from society’s definition of “normal”.

Since it was first formally recognized in the 1940’s, our society has made impressive steps to improve the  lives of those on the autism spectrum. Autism awareness increases daily and doctors are getting to know the signs better all the time.

But, where do we go from here? How do we take the next step towards global awareness, inclusion, and acceptance?

What the world needs is CARE:

Connections with the most experienced autism experts in the world

Accurate and immediate autism news and research updates

Revolutionary training videos for parents and caregivers

Education on autism that’s free and easy to access

Shema Kolainu’s Autism Webinar portal, iCareTV, provides what our global community truly needs to make the next step towards improving the lives of those with autism.

If life is a movie,  iCareTV allows the global community to look at it through a new lens.

With iCareTV, the world can watch in-depth workshops and webinars from leading professionals in the field, including Anat Baniel, Ari Ne’Eman, and Stephen Shore.

At the heart of this initiative is a common mission to provide greater awareness of new autism information and research findings. To provide a trustworthy, alternative autism news network. And, to provide a solid community of support for a world that deserves to understand autism better.

Making a real impact today is easier than you think. In this big world we live in, we are connected by a common hope that future generations are able to lead better lives. Make that hope a reality!

Register for free within a few minutes today:


Solutions to Sensory Integration Dysfunction

sensory processing disorder

We live in a physical world. No matter how still or silent our surroundings may be, our bodies are always detecting the sights, sounds, smells, and tactile sensations around us.

Your average neurotypical person might feel most at ease in a ratty sweatshirt and a pair of blue jeans. A child with sensory processing disorder, on the other hand, cannot stand the polyester these materials contain and feels on edge whenever she wears them. She has a very different perception of the same material. This doesn’t mean that her senses are “inferior,” they are simply different.

One of the hallmark symptoms of autism spectrum disorder is SPD. This is characterized by having a disorganized manner of feeling and processing certain tactile sensations. What may feel slightly rough to one person may feel like sandpaper to an individual with ASD. However, the same can happen with stereotypically “soft” items like cotton or silk.

Rather than providing comfort, as they would for most, they agitate the individual and cause them to go into a sensory overload often culminating in a meltdown. If you were constantly in pain, wouldn’t you be screaming out too?

Due to the fact that everyone’s preferences are so individual, it’s difficult to determine what the best course of action is for maintaining a comfortable environment.  The best way to do this is through a simple test of trial-and-error. Of course, the stakes are different for children who become distressed at the touch of certain materials. It is best not to bombard them with potential disturbances.

A better solution would be to gradually and non-forcefully present them with items that could cause a reaction.  Sensory processing is not a simple problem to solve; however, starting off with something as simple as a test of yes-or-no presentations may be a step in the right direction to making the world a little less stressful for them.

By Sara Power

Safety In the Summer: Autism Cards

autism summer safety

Ahhh! Summer is officially here! The sun is out, the days are longer, and school is over!

The summer months are a great time for the entire family to relax, go to the beach, or watch a ballgame. Going on vacation is another great activity where families can explore a new place and create long lasting memories.

But big events and family outings like these can cause some concerns for parents. These days, many parents are utilizing “Autism Identification” in order to help keep their children safe when out of the house. Making it clear that a child has autism can ease concerns if they are discovered by a stranger. In this scary event, it becomes easier for the child to get the help they need.

Here are three forms of Autism Identification that can help ease parents’ stress:

1. Autism ID Card: One of the most agreed upon issues is better training for first responders like police officers, firemen, medical personnel, and others. This card explains autism as a medical condition that hinders the person’s ability to communicate with others. So not answering questions or follow directions should not be perceived as refusal to cooperate. On the back, the card lists an emergency contact number.

2. Medical ID Bracelets: This includes important medical information that can be helpful during an emergency situation or if a child were to become lost. They help locate the parent, caregiver, or physician if necessary. At times accidents may leave a person unable to talk. Having this bracelet would help give medical staff the information that they need.

3. “Hand in Autism” Autism Info Card: Many parents may have experienced embarrassment when their child displays negative behavior in public. They take this opportunity to educate others about autism by passing around the info card. The card includes some information about how many people are affected and some common difficulties individuals with autism may have.

Although we focused on summer vacation safety, these forms of ID are useful all year round. Information is the key and can really make a difference during a time of urgency. It helps the assisting personnel or authority figures properly asses situations. All the cards described above can be purchased online at a low cost. The Hand in Autism Info cared is actually a free download!

Written by Raiza Belarmino